Burt Bacharach, Ledisi, PJ Morton & More: The Week in Jazz

The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It’s a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let’s take it from the top.



Burt Bacharach Dies: Composer Burt Bacharach died last week, aged 94. The great composer was known for his refined orchestral pop style, his longstanding collaboration with lyricist Hal David, and for creating prime material for such vocalists as Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones, among many others. He was an eight-time GRAMMY winner, a prize-winning Broadway composer and a three-time Oscar winner, having received two Academy Awards in 1970 alone for the score of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” And in 2012, he was presented the Gershwin Prize by Barack Obama, who sang a few seconds of “Walk On By” during a campaign appearance.

Jazz Artist Manager Karen Kennedy Elected President of NAPAMA: Karen Kennedy, founding President of 24/Seven Artist Development, has been elected as President of North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents (NAPAMA). Kennedy’s appointment follows the leadership of former NAPAMA president Gail Boyd, who was the first African American woman to step into this prominent role. Kennedy is the second. Both Boyd and Kennedy are the first two NAPAMA Presidents to come from the jazz music industry.

PJ Morton on The Daily Show: PJ Morton recently returned to The Daily Show to sit down with guest host D.L. Hughley, before delivering a rendition of his song “Be Like Water,” featuring a special appearance from poet Amir Sulaiman. Watch the performance, which marked the first music performance of 2023, via the player below. The song is included in Morton’s 2022 album, Watch the Sun.

First Four Bill Summers Albums As Bandleader Debut Across Digital Platforms: Craft Recordings celebrated the career of legendary jazz musician Bill Summers by making his first four albums as a bandleader available on digital platforms for the very first time. Featuring the artist’s dynamic band, Summers Heat, the titles are: Feel the Heat (1977), Cayenne (1977), Straight to the Bank (1978) and On Sunshine (1979). These albums comprise Summer’s entire output for Prestige Records and include some of his biggest hits, as well as a variety of guest stars. Listen to all four albums here.

New Bing Crosby Official Video: The Crosby Estate has shared an official music video for Bing Crosby’s version of “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” featuring vintage family photos of the crooner and his beloved wife Kathryn Cosby. A 20-track collection of classic romantic songs by Crosby, A Valentine From Bing, is out now Primary Wave via Green Hill/Virgin distribution.


New and Upcoming Albums

Plínio Fernandes, Saudade (Decca Gold): Saudade marks 27-year-old Brazilian classical guitarist Plínio Fernandes’ debut for Decca Gold. An entrancing collection of works for solo guitar, Saudade was released last year and features “songs that I grew up listening to,” explains Fernandes via a statement, “and in many cases, I fell in love with the guitar through them.”

The Comet Is Coming, Hyper-Dimensional Extension Beam (Impulse!): British electronic jazz trio The Comet Is Coming released their anticipated new album, Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam, last year via Impulse! Records. The album was created during a four-day session at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios and is described via a press release as “an expression of unity and magical alchemy that amplifies the powers of Danalogue, Betamax and Shabaka.” 

William Parker, Universal Tonality (Centering): Centering Records released a 2-LP live album of profound improvised music led and conceptualized by maestro William Parker, and recorded at Manhattan’s storied Roulette venue in December 2002. Universal Tonality, released last year, finds him joined on stage by a star-studded cast of like-minded musical peers, including several luminaries of the ’60s avant-garde, and documents a night defined by Parker as a unique experiment of “breathing together.”

Hedvig Mollestad, Maternity Beat (Rune Grammofon): Acclaimed guitarist Hedvid Mollestad, a vital leader on the contemporary Norwegian jazz scene, recently released her new album, Maternity Beat. Billed as one of her most ambitious projects to date, the new work was recorded by Mollestad with the 12-piece Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and offers deeply personal meditations on the nature of family and pressing social issues.


Live Music and Festival News

San Jose Jazz Winter Fest 2023: San Jose Jazz presents its 2023 Winter Fest on February 16-March 3. The lineup features Jazzmeia Horn with the Marcus Shelby Orchestra, Ambrose Akinmusire & Rafiq Bhatia, Madison McFerrin and many more. There will also be a dedicated spotlight on Ukrainian Improvisation Artists, organized in collaboration with Kyiv’s Am I Jazz? Festival. More here.

Ledisi Honors Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall: GRAMMY-winning vocalist Ledisi will pay tribute to the legendary Nina Simone with a live Carnegie Hall performance of her critically-acclaimed album Ledisi Sings Nina, released in 2021. The concert will take place on February 23 and feature a 30-piece orchestra. Tickets here.

The Canada Council Launches New Jazz Video Series: The Canada Council has launched a video series on the National Arts Centre’s website with performance highlights from Canadian jazz masters at last year’s edition of Germany’s jazzahead! In 2022, Canada was recognized as the festival’s first-ever overseas partner and the goal of this video series is to raise awareness of this initiative and its performances. Watch here.

Sean Jones Makes Miller Theatre Debut: Sean Jones, the former lead trumpeter of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, will make his debut at Miller Theatre on March 4, as part of Columbia University’s 2022-23 Jazz series. The concert will feature the trumpeter/composer performing a program of standards and originals alongside his quartet. Tickets here.

George Coleman’s 88th Birthday Celebration at SMOKE: Legendary saxophonist George Coleman will celebrate his 88th birthday with a live quartet performance at New York’s SMOKE on March 8. He’ll be joined on this one-night appearance by a special quartet featuring his song George Jr. on drums and old friend Mike LeDonne on piano. Tickets here.

Featured photo: Creative Commons.

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